I have gotten out of the habit of baking bread. I’m not sure why. It has always been such a satisfying experience. It could be because we have stopped eating bread at meals and seldom reach for the bread basket in restaurants. But every once in a while, when soup is on the menu for dinner, there is nothing better than good bread to dip in the broth and savor along with the contents of the bowl. The key words here are “good bread”.
I ran across this recipe in a Cooking Light Cookbook the other day and loved the idea of twisted breadsticks. The yeast dough was enhanced with cornmeal and was easy to handle. After the first rise the dough is divided into 24 pieces and rolled into ropes.
The ropes are twisted together in twos forming 12 breadsticks. These are left to rise for a half an hour and then the breadsticks are brushed with egg and sprinkled with fennel and coarse salt and baked.
One for the cook!
I loved this recipe and plan on making the breadsticks again during the holidays. The fennel and salt enhanced the flavor so much and would make them a great accompaniment to many Italian dishes. As a matter of fact they will go well with our traditional New Years Day dinner with friends. I will have to take the recipe with me to our rental house in Charleston. The same four couples always get together at New Years. I hosted it one year and wrote about it here. I think everyone will enjoy these. I hope you will too.
TWISTED FENNEL AND COARSE SALT BREADSTICKS
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm fat-free milk (100 to 110 degrees F)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a bowl, let stand 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, level with a knife. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, cornmeal, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), add enough remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 24 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining portions to prevent drying), shape each portion into a 9-inch rope. Twist two ropes together; pinch ends to seal. Place on prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover dough, and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Combine water and egg white in a small bowl. Combine fennel seeds and kosher salt in another bowl. Brush breadsticks with egg white mixture, and sprinkle evenly with fennel seed mixture. Bake at 425 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until puffed and lightly golden. WATCH CAREFULLY. MINE WERE DONE IN 10 MINUTES. Cool on a wire rack before serving. Yield: 12 servings.